Washington, October 29, 2013 – Two decades since independence of the three nations of the South Caucasus, the protracted Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict remains the main threat to regional peace and security. The continued illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories by Armenia and the exile of about one million refugees and IDPs prevent the region from fully realizing its potential.

Exactly twenty years ago, on October 29, 1993, the region of Zangilan, located in the immediate vicinity of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and along the border with Armenia and Iran, was attacked by the Armenian military forces. Holding a strategically important position on Baku-Julfa-Nakhchivan railway, Zangilan was covering around 700 sq km area with a population over 35,000. As a result of the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1991-1994, 188 residents of Zangilan were killed, 44 went missing and the district was totally destroyed. The entire civilian population of the region was forced into exile.

Zangilan was the latest in the series of seven Azerbaijani districts, which have been occupied as a result of violent military aggression and their population displaced as part of Armenia’s ethnic cleansing campaign. Earlier in the same year, the armed forces of Armenia captured another 5 districts of Azerbaijan surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in addition to Lachin already seized in May 1992: Kalbajar (April 1993), Aghdam (July 1993), Jabrayil (August 1993), Gubadly (August 1993) and Fizuli (August 1993). Subsequently in response to the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993). These resolutions, reaffirming the respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the international borders of Azerbaijan, demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all occupied regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In spite of ongoing negotiations under the auspices the OSCE Minsk Group, none of these resolutions has been implemented by Armenia.

Today, the people of Azerbaijan commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragic fall of Zangilan, and, in Washington, the Embassy of Azerbaijan to the United States held a commemorative event in remembrance of two decades of occupation and displacement.

It is symbolic that this commemoration day is marked when Azerbaijan holds the rotating chairmanship of the UN Security Council, as one of the non-permanent members of this most authoritative international body. Just as Azerbaijan works to make a contribution to overcoming global challenges and maintaining peace in different corners of the world, the people of Azerbaijan expect a more active involvement of the international community in securing lasting settlement to Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, on the basis of the norms and principles of the international law.

SOURCE: Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States